Shop Tour: Behind The Scenes With Classic Performance Products

One of the perks of working with aftermarket parts manufacturers, is we sometimes get an inside look at how the parts we know and love are made. One company we are continually impressed with is Classic Performance Products (CPP). The folks there are constantly pushing the envelope of innovation to provide its customers with the parts they want and need.

Jim Ries was a gracious host. Here he is, showing us around CPP’s testing/tech area.

We had a chance to see first-hand, exactly how the good people there accomplish just that. Earlier this year, we stopped by the 80,000 square-foot CPP facility in Placentia, California. We were given the grand tour, courtesy of its founder, Jim Ries. Jim showed us around and explained how his baby has grown from a “little Southern Californian parts shop” to the aftermarket powerhouse it is today.

Jim started in 1991 and was running things primarily out of his garage. As the company began to build steam, growing pains set in. So, in 1993, he decided to branch out and move into a storefront. What set CPP apart at the time was its ability to work with other manufacturers – not only as a distributor but as a sort of engineering partner. CPP’s engineering department continues to work closely with other top brands in the industry to develop new products, which translates into better parts for the consumer.

That carries over to the CPP mantra of “Building quality parts at an affordable price for our customers.” Maintaining that as a guiding light has served them well. We fast-forward to 2005 when CPP moved its operations to Anaheim – expanding even further in 2008 and 2011. By then, CPP was operating at full-tilt across multiple locations. With a vast manufacturing facility, an extremely busy research and development department, and a shipping and receiving department sending parts out as fast as they could package them, the time came to move everything under one roof.

This brings us to the current living situation for CPP. In 2012, it found its new home in Placentia – an enormous space that houses everything from CPP’s sales, shipping, and manufacturing departments. With all that space, it even has enough room for a showroom that rivals most fine art museums.

Back to the tour…

Sales & Customer Service:

As we passed through the sales department, we saw dozens of people answering phone calls from customers with tech questions and purchase orders. As a consumer, it’s always nice to hear a familiar voice on the other end of the phone. With so many companies outsourcing customer service, it was nice to see.

Shipping & Receiving:

It was really cool to see the parts being assembled, packaged, and staged for shipping in such a smooth and cohesive way. CPP really has this dialed!

We also took a stroll through CPP’s shipping and receiving department – and it was a long stroll. It should come as no surprise either because when we asked Jim about the number of products moving in and out of the building, he had this to say; “We ship about 500 to 1,000 packages a day, and we stock about 20,000 part numbers.”

Once the parts are pulled from CPP's massive inventory, they are packaged and staged for shipping.

Manufacturing:

We even got to see some of the parts being made right in front of us. One of CPP's technicians was kind enough to show us how a Totally Tubular control arm is made.

We moved through the warehouse from shipping and receiving towards the manufacturing part of the house. Here, we saw trained technicians crafting everything from CPP’s famous Totally Tubular control arms to its hubs and spindles. Watching the raw materials being transformed into usable parts was mesmerizing. It gives you an appreciation for the hard work that goes into every piece.

From raw materials to finished products. CPP's manufacturing is impressive to watch in action.

Testing/Tech Center:

CPP’s tech center houses a seemingly endless supply of frames. They serve as test platforms for new parts.

Jim showed us around CPP’s testing/tech center. This is where technicians test, install, and develop new products. They have practically every frame, rearend, and part imaginable to get the job done. Jim even showed us a 1958-64 Impala frame he’s owned since he started the company. It’s been used to create countless parts in CPP’s catalog.

Mixed among the stack of chassis was a '58-'64 Impala frame Jim has owned since he started CPP. You can see how they use it to develop new parts. The yellow control arms are factory stock, and on the other side are CPP's Totally Tubular units.

Of course, CPP has to put its products to the ultimate test. It does so by fielding cars at autocross events all over the country. Below you can see one of CPP’s test mules – the Comeback Camaro. In 2019, we saw it tearing up the asphalt at the Goodguys car show in Del Mar, California, and we can say this first-gen Camaro is a beast!

One of CPP’s test mules – the Comeback Camaro.

Research & Development:

The R&D department was rife with interesting things to look at. Among them were a whole host of 3D-printed parts.

While in the R&D department, Jim was kind enough to show us a broken bracket a customer had sent back. This isn’t something you’d expect a manufacturer to show the media, but through extensive investigation, they found it to be due to improper installation, and not the part itself.

What impressed us most about the situation was not that the part wasn’t to blame, but rather the effort put forth to come to that conclusion. Many large companies might simply ship out another bracket, but not CPP. Their engineers worked with the customer to figure out what went wrong and why, thus ensuring future customers receive the best product possible.

The 3D-printed parts were a fantastic visual aid. It makes it all the more impressive to see the parts go from a 3D-printed model to a final product ready to be shipped.

 

Showroom:

The CPP showroom is real gearhead heaven!

The last stop on our tour was the CPP showroom – virtual gearhead heaven! Here, you can see all the countless hours of hard work put into creating quality products. Displays are carefully crafted to show off the vast number of parts CPP has to offer.

We got a sense of total transparency during our visit, which was refreshing. It’s too often we hear of companies compromising scruples in the name of profit. Seldom do we hear of the companies that stand behind their products, and more importantly, stand with their customers.

The people at CPP do so literally and figuratively – wrenching in their tech center and racing on the same tracks as the enthusiasts who purchase their products. In fact, Jim told us they often hold an open-house in the showroom for people from all over Southern California to come by and hang out.

So, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, we highly recommend visiting the good folks at CPP. At the very least, you’ll be able to drool over some gorgeous pieces of automobilia. If you’re outside of Southern California and would like to check out the quality parts CPP produces, you can always visit its website here.

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About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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